This past fall I missed the opportunity to have my health checked through the university’s “wellness program” due to the fact that the university had me out of town on the day that the check-up was held. But this past week I had the opportunity to attend another check-up sponsored by the university. For the most part these check-up clinics are free to the employees of the university depending on the tests that that the individual employee wants to participate in. Being squeaky tight when it comes to all things financial I usually opt for those tests that are free. Typically I just go in for the blood screen that measures something like a million possible diseases, illnesses, and calamities that could strike the human body in a lifetime. There was no cost to this blood test.
Because I was having a blood test I was not allowed to eat any food the twelve hours prior to the actual test. The last “real” food I had was at 6:00PM the night before the test . . . sort of a “last meal” thing. Usually snacking between meals is no big deal—I don’t do it too often, but because I was told that I could not eat anything before the actual blood draw my body rioted. No sooner had I pushed myself away from the table my body started sending subtle hints that it was “hungry”. My body is a liar, but my mind bought into it. Suddenly I was craving food . . . all sorts of food . . . even food that I didn’t like. I caught myself drooling as I watched those around me nibbling on this snack and that snack. My disposition changed . . . hunger created grumpiness. I was a certified grump who was hungry! Needless to say the twelve hours crept towards completion . . . any other time it would have zipped straight toward the finish line. The family was not happy and even discussed letting me sleep outside for the night.
With the rising sun I anxiously awaited my health check-up despite my stomach lamenting that it was going to collapse of starvation. Shoot, there is enough fat on the ol’ body that the stomach shouldn’t have been hungry for at least a couple of decades! Arriving at the clinic the first thing I encountered was a spread of food . . . a smorgasbord of delectable fruits, bagels, sweet rolls, and yogurt . . . which only increased the lamenting of the stomach. This did not help my disposition any. The disposition was pretty lousy because the stomach was hungry . . . because I dislike needles and giving blood . . . and there was the possibility of the scale. I was not the happiest camper in the camp.
The first line of business was the usual blood pressure and heart rate check. Typically this is no big deal when I am just going to visit my doctor, but this was the prelude before the blood test . . . the blood test where they had to stick a needle in my body. With such anxiousness the blood pressure and heart rate check tends to be higher than normal . . . and it was. Imagine that! Even though it was high it was still well within the “normal” range. With that information I was instructed to proceed to the next cubicle where my blood would be drawn. Thankfully they did not take my blood pressure or heart rate at that point as it would have been off the charts.
As I mentioned earlier, I do not like needles. Needles and I do not go well together. I have been so tense in the past that I have actually bent a needle as the phlebotomist inserted the needle into my arm. Because of that I often view phlebotomists as distant relatives of Count Dracula . . . not people I want to get too close to. The phlebotomist assured me that the “stick” would not hurt . . . told me it would be nothing worse than a bee sting. I guess she never saw me react to a bee sting . . . it isn’t pretty. All that screaming and cussing and crying as I am stomping the life out of the insect that stung me. So, I prepared myself for the worse and waited. Ouch! The phlebotomist pinched me on my left arm and as I was responding to that pain she stuck me with the needle. I guess that was to distract me but all it did was create two pains instead of one. Deep within my body I wanted to scream like the world’s biggest sissy . . . but, I did not. Real men don’t cry when poked with a needle . . . it is a real pain being a real man.
Upon completion of taking a gallon of my blood—okay, two small viles—the nurse stated, “Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” She had to pry my hands off the arms of the chair. Then she stated that I was to go to the next cubicle, remove my shoes and socks, and wait. It is one thing to have a fear of needles—I think that is legitimate, but it is another to have to take off one’s shoes and socks in a public place in front of strangers . . . especially on the day I wore my oldest pair of running shoes. You know the ones that I am talking about . . . you smell them approaching before they are even in the room. If I had known I was going to be barefooted I would have gotten a pedicure.
Nowhere in the information that the university provided about the health check-up was there anything mentioned about shoes and socks being removed. It was the last gauntlet of the health check-up—the body mass index. This measurement take a person’s height and weight, places them into a top secret formula, and produces a person’s body mass in relation to that person’s body fat. This was not a measurement I wanted as I was quite happy living in the delusion that my body was perfect as it was . . . what a joke! My delusion and reality were in two separate neighborhoods. My delusion was living in La La Land, while the reality was living in a land of . . . well, weightiness. Upon receiving the results my scream was probably heard all over campus and beyond. I thought it was in my mind, but the fear in the technician’s eyes clearly let me know that it was not! The results? Let’s just say that my body mass indicator indicated that there was no reason for the stomach to be complaining about starving.
The end result was that I threw on my shoes and socks, devoured the food table, and went back to work. I had survived. The stomach was fed and now complaining that I had over-eaten. Luckily only a few people actually heard me screaming, but they are on the other end of the campus . . . I’ll never see them again. With the delusion destroyed I begin the wait . . . it could be up to two weeks before I get the results of what I went in for in the first place—the blood test. In the meantime, I wait . . . and wait . . .
I think that these health screenings are set up like this on purpose . . . the waiting. The waiting period is just long enough for me to fall back into and get comfortable with the delusion of being healthy as an ox. For something that was free it sure cost me a lot.